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6/10: First Group of Deported Migrants Flown to Mexico
Released 10 June 2005  By MARK STEVENSON - The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Ninety-four deported migrants arrived in Mexico's capital Friday on the first flight of a renewed U.S. repatriation program aimed at discouraging repeated border-crossers in desert areas during the hot summer months.

Some of those deported said they would try to cross again, while others said their border crossing days were over. The twice-daily flights are expected to bring thousands of Mexicans caught crossing illegally in the Arizona desert back to their hometowns.

``No, I don't think I'd try again. It's too tough a trip,'' said Oscar Castrejon, a 30-year-old farm worker from Acapulco who walked three days before being detained and deported.

Nearby, Felipe Rendon, a farmer from Huautla, in southern Morelos state, said ``of course I'll try again. There are no jobs here.''

Even some nearly killed in the desert said they were thinking about the possibility of making another try.

``I was left alone in the desert after I twisted my ankle,'' said 44-year-old Hugo Chacha Arceo of his two-day ordeal in Arizona. Abandoned, he crawled and limped into the brush to seek shelter from the sun, but then lost his bearings.

``I shouted and shouted, but nobody answered me. It's very lonely out there. I thought I heard voices, but it was my mind playing tricks on me,'' said Chacha, who arrived at Mexico City's international airport on crutches. ``I thought I heard cars coming, but it was the wind.''

Chacha finally was spotted and rescued by the U.S. Border Patrol.

Still, asked about another attempt to cross, he answered ``that's something I would have to consider.''

Greeted upon landing by the government's Grupo Beta migrant-aid agency, the deportees were given box lunches and free bus tickets to their hometowns.

U.S. officials have budgeted $14.2 million to deport by air as many as 33,900 migrants who choose to participate in the program between now and September, saying they'd like to be transported all the way home - instead of being simply left on the Mexican side of the border as are most illegal Mexican immigrants.

The head of Mexico's National Immigration Institute, Magdalena Carral said the effort was worth it, even if some migrants planned to return.

But she also noted the program ``is not the solution. It is only a stopgap measure,'' and that a ``legal avenue of recourse'' for migrant workers was needed.

Pedro Espindola, head of Grupo Beta, said last year's program - which flew home about 14,000 migrants - ``was a big benefit to those people, because it allowed them to reach their homes safely.''

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spent $15.4 million on the program from July 12 through Sept. 30, 2004.

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